Nigella Lawson’s almond and olive oil chocolate cake

Christmas is complicated in this house by December birthdays, which add to the scramble of festivities. So, in another bout of late-night baking after a child’s Christmas concert this week, once again, I baked this cake.

The cake is so quick to make, it has saved me on many occasions — this summer, after a long day at the beach we bought the ingredients on the way home, as supermarkets were closing, and made it in time for a dinner: disguised by the power of powdered sugar as an Avengers creation for a ten-year-old’s birthday.

I discovered it four years ago and mentioned it here briefly, but it deserves a full feature. The recipe is from Nigella Lawson; I make it as is, usually the almond flour version (unless I’ve run out).

Chocolate cake doesn’t necessarily scream Christmas, but it does sing of New Year’s! (And any birthdays in between)

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Chocolate Olive Oil Cake by Nigella Lawson <— link to the original recipe

150ml (mild) olive oil (plus a little extra for greasing)
50g cocoa powder
125ml boiling water
2 tsps vanilla extract
150g ground almonds (or 125g regular flour)
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 pinch salt
200g caster sugar
3 eggs

Preheat the oven to 170°C (325°F). Grease a 23-cm (9 in) baking tin with olive oil and line it with parchment paper.

Sift the cocoa powder into a medium bowl, whisk in the boiling water until it becomes a thickened paste, still smooth and barely runny. Stir in the vanilla extract and set aside to cool.

In another medium bowl, combine the almond flour (or flour), bicarbonate of soda, and salt.

In a larger bowl — or an electric mixer — briskly whisk together the sugar and eggs for a good three minutes until it becomes an aerated, light, and thickened cream.

Stir the cocoa mixture into the eggs/sugar cream until well combined, and finally add the almond/flour mixture.

Scrape the batter (which will be fairly liquid) into the prepared cake tin. Bake in the oven for 40 to 45 minutes, until a knife or skewer inserted in the middle of the cake comes out dry, with a few crumbs attached.

I like to let the cake cool completely before serving it with a spoonful of crème fraîche. As with all chocolate and/or almond cakes, it gets even better after a day or two.

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